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Agricultural News

R-CALF USA Demands Suspension of NCBA Beef Checkoff Contracts Before Callicrate Lawsuit Proceeds Further

Thu, 30 Aug 2012 09:24:53 CDT

R-CALF USA Demands Suspension of NCBA Beef Checkoff Contracts Before Callicrate Lawsuit Proceeds Further
In a strongly worded letter, R-CALF USA demands U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack permanently suspend all contracts between the Beef Checkoff Program (Beef Checkoff) and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) before the Michael Callicrate v. USDA et al. lawsuit proceeds any further.

The group's letter explains that R-CALF USA urged Vilsack to suspend all contracts between the Beef Checkoff and NCBA in eight separate letters sent to Vilsack over the past two years. Those requests were based on evidence the group submitted that demonstrates the NCBA had unlawfully misused hundreds of thousands of Beef Checkoff dollars.

The group wrote that Vilsack has abrogated his responsibility to preserve the integrity of the Beef Checkoff and, instead, has played the role of NCBA's patsy:

"You have continued to allow the Beef Checkoff to unlawfully award tens of millions of dollars to NCBA, which enabled that organization to continue its unlawful use of Beef Checkoff funds to successfully undermine your Administration's stated goals concerning country-of-origin labeling (COOL) and the competition rule proposed by the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA), just to name two.

"Because you shirked your responsibilities under the Act and Order (which govern the Beef Checkoff) and to U.S. cattle producers, a lawsuit was necessarily filed against you by an R-CALF USA member, Mike Callicrate. That lawsuit, Michael Callicrate v. USDA et al., makes nearly all the allegations we made to you during the past two years; references nearly all the evidence we provided you during the past two years; and, it seeks the same remedy we urged you to grant our industry during the past two years.

"R-CALF USA is outraged by your inaction - particularly following your receipt of our evidence that showed NCBA had misappropriated hundreds of thousands of cattle producers' Beef Checkoff funds - and fully supports the merits of the Michael Callicrate v. USDA et al. lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed against you because you failed to stop the NCBA from unlawfully using Beef Checkoff funds to continually undermine the policy goals of independent U.S. cattle producers, which has effectively reduced their economic opportunities.

"We demand that you, by your own fruition, immediately put a stop to the NCBA's ongoing abuse of the Beef Checkoff by fully implementing the entire remedy sought in the lawsuit, which is the remedy we have unsuccessfully sought from you for longer than two years. We are calling on you to act, and to act appropriately, without the lawsuit having to proceed any further."

In addition to demanding the suspension of NCBA's contracts with the Beef Checkoff, the group is also demanding that Vilsack initiate a rulemaking "to make it crystal clear that organizations that contract with the Beef Checkoff are barred from engaging in lobbying activities."

"We trust that you will carefully consider our demand and choose to comply in full. Doing so will negate the need for R-CALF USA to formally join in a complaint against you," the letter concluded.

Background: On August 9, 2012, Michael Callicrate filed a lawsuit against Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and other related U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) entities alleging that NCBA violated federal law by using Beef Checkoff funds to support its policy and lobbying activities, which is unlawful under the controlling statute. The lawsuit further alleges that NCBA continues to receive tens of millions of dollars from the Beef Checkoff each year and that funds continue to be used to fund NCBA's policy and lobbying efforts. The lawsuit seeks an immediate and permanent suspension of all contracts between the NCBA and the Beef Checkoff.

Click here to read the Callicrate v. USDA lawsuit.

Click here to read R-CALF's letter to Tom Vilsack.



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